Hammond: I will ban military chiefs who break lobbying rules

 

Retired military commanders could be barred from the corridors of power after the MoD launched an inquiry into claims that some of them have used their access to lobby for lucrative arms deals. The president of the Royal British Legion, a decorated Falklands veteran, may become a high-profile casualty in the recriminations which have followed the revelations.

Lieutenant-General Sir John Kiszely was one of a group of former senior officers who were secretly filmed apparently boasting of their closeness to ministers, current heads of the military and MPs. He is alleged to have said he could use his position at the organisation for business purposes. He would be meeting the Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary, and the head of the British military at a Remembrance Sunday ceremony and offered the possibility of "commercial people" being present as the Legion's guests.

The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, said yesterday he would not hesitate to "shut the door" if it were proved that they had been using their positions to lobby in breach of rules.

The undercover sting, by The Sunday Times newspaper, also focused on Lord Dannatt, the former Chief of General Staff; Lieutenant-General Richard Applegate, the former chief of Army procurement; and the former Fleet Commander, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar. They had been approached by reporters, one of them a young woman, pretending to be representatives of a South Korean arms manufacturer.

Last night, the Legion said it had launched an investigation into the allegations against Lt-Gen Kiszely, the result of which will be sent to the organisation's trustees. Chris Simpkins, the director-general, stressed that there was "a code of conduct that addresses the issue of conflict of interest". He said the honorary position of national president was covered by the code and should not be used for commercial gain.

Lt-Gen Kiszely said: "I have always kept my role as national president of the Royal British Legion separate from my business interests."

Mr Hammond said: "There are many, many reasons why it is sensible for the MoD to maintain contact with retired officers... but if they are abusing that access for commercial purposes then we will have to tighten it up or maybe even shut it down."

All four former commanders have denied any wrongdoing.

Sources close to Lt-Gen Applegate said he had informed the MoD about the work he was carrying out on behalf of an Israeli defence company and had been cleared to continue doing so. "At no stage did I lobby or agree to a covert political lobbying campaign."

Lord Dannatt acknowledged that he offered to "facilitate conversations" but rejected an £8,000 monthly fee offer, insisting that he had "no inclination" to undertake any lobbying that would contravene the rules.

Line of fire: generals under investigation

Lord [Richard] Dannatt, former head of the Army Alleged to have offered to sidestep a ban on discussion of a £400m contract by speaking to a top MoD civil servant, an old school friend. He denied breach of the rules and said he rejected an £8,000 monthly fee offer.

Lieutenant-General Sir John Kiszely, President of the Royal British Legion General Kiszely, 64, a former director of the Defence Academy, is said to have offered to use his current role to push his client's agenda with the PM and other senior figures. He denies wrongdoing, and says he has always kept his British Legion role separate from his business interests.

Admiral Sir Trevor Soar Former Commander in Chief of the Fleet is reported to have offered to break a two-year ban on lobbying imposed on personnel leaving the service after being asked to work for a South Korean company. He denies breaking rules, insisting he had official approval.

Lieutenant-General Richard Applegate, Quartermaster-General Said to have admitted a secret lobbying campaign for a £500m military programme on behalf of an Israeli arms company despite being barred from lobbying. Sources said he had been cleared by the MoD.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent